7.75 Miles. 7'04" Minutes per Mile.
That's pretty good for me. I felt like I was going to die half the time and at times I wanted to slow down and just coast in. But I didn't. I didn't give up because of the jerk in front of me.
That would be Nick Fedoroff, gliding along like a gazelle, effortlessly churning out sub-seven minute miles. He is my running partner and one of my best friends and although about mile 5 I hated his guts, I am blessed to run along with him.
We've run together for about 4 years now. We've trained for 5Ks, halfs, and marathons in the rain, snow, and extreme heat. We paced each other in the Eugene Marathon in our first attempts at that distance. He pushes me, I push him. We both get faster.
When I run alone I rely on running apps like Nike+ GPS, Runkeeper, and Adidas MiCoach to give me feedback on my runs and they have been an integral part of my evolution as a runner. However, they fail in comparison to the value of trying to keep up with Nick. A running partner is real-real-time. Running too fast? They will tell you. Running too slow? They will tell you and not with words but in a physical way that is immediate and compelling. If your running partner is sputtering, you're running fast. If they suddenly drop dead, you're running too fast.
One of my favorite things when Nick and I are running is when our casual conversation stops. We have a lot of funny and/or deep conversations on our runs but when the chatter stops I know we are pushing each other.
Of course, this isn't a post entirely about the bromance that Nick and I have. It's also about the importance of having a good running partner. I've learned it is an essential ingredient to becoming a runner.
For a beginner, a good running partner is someone who will knock on your door at 6AM and wake you up or at least give you a hard time for bailing on a run. If you are training for a race, looking for speed, or want to go further, a good running partner will help you set goals and show you how well you are doing.
Finding the right running partner can be difficult. I am asked a lot to go running with people and I have to admit, I'm not a good running partner for a beginner. I'm going to go too far or leave you behind. The key is to find someone who is about the same level as you are or maybe a bit more advanced. If you are running twice a week, find someone who is running three times a week. If you are training for a 10K, team up with a person training for the same distance or even the same race.
The important ingredient here is to start running. Don't wait to find a running partner. You'll probably meet your running partner in the locker room or out on the trail. It's sort of like finding a date. You're not going to find Mr. Right sitting on the couch watching Big Brother. Many races have group runs with coaching. Fitright Northwest has great events every week that are full of people at all levels.
So go run and keep your eyes peeled for a running partner. You'll be a better runner for it and you just might make a friend.